New Mechanics & 100+ Balance Changes

11/19/2020 6:40:00 AM

New Mechanics & 100+ Balance Changes


As is customary for our "midseason" point, we've got quite a big balance patch coming on Monday, November 16th. Due to the amount of changes being made, we're going to change the formatting for this writeup. This one is coming closer to the end of the season than previous seasons due to a reworking of our season structure that we'll go in-depth on later. On top of over 100 buffs to lesser-used cards, we've got a couple new mechanics to introduce before looking at some nerfs and buffs targeted at specific decks, some changes aimed at draft formats, and a rather lengthy list of buffs for other miscellaneous cards.



Persist

Persist is a mechanic we've been working on for our upcoming expansion and decided to use as a way to buff some core set spells as well. Persist spells place a brand on the caster for some length of time.


Persist X - Create a brand with the given effect which lasts until your Xth Sunrise. If the brand already exists, the duration is extended by X instead.


Circle of Protection

NEW: Persist 2 - Friendly minions have Armor 2 and Warded.

This change allows Circle of Protection to give you its benefits a bit longer, which can be useful in anticipating sweeping removal coming up in your opponent's curve, or for taking some advantageous trades.


Miraculous Feast

NEW: Persist 2 - Sundown: Fully heal all your minions and gain 3 life.

This change represents a buff to the overall life gain Harvest gives the player while also allowing for another instance of fully healing minions.



Mirror

Our next new mechanic is not one that was designed for the expansion, but rather one we decided to use to bring some added value to some fairly niche cards. Mirror cards add Ephemeral copies of themselves to your hand when you play them.


Mirror - After playing, add an Ephemeral copy of this to your hand without Mirror.


Locked in Ice

NEW: Mirror

Stun a minion until the end of its next turn. → Lock a minion's strength to zero until Sunrise.

We're moving Locked in Ice to a more thematic effect that should make it easier to allow you to trade into a minion you use it on in draft games. Mirror should also provide enough value that you can find more use for it in longer draft games.


Rune of Denial

NEW: Mirror


Forked Lightning

NEW: Mirror



Red/Orange Midrange

Red/Orange Midrange has been a deck that has always done really well on ladder and making adjustments to it can be a bit delicate. There's not really any single card that stands out to us as the obvious thing to adjust here, since the deck's success is largely a side effect of playing a lot of otherwise fine cards together and generating a lot of value. Rather than look for a single targeted nerf here that significantly reduces the power level of the deck, we're looking to make more smaller adjustments here and buff other decks around it to reduce the gap between it and other decks in the ladder scene.


Daring Trapezists

2/2 → 2/1

Daring Trapezists has been one of the most hotly debated cards in the game for a very long time. A slight toning back of its ability to value trade into 1/X minions while not making its offensive power any weaker should make for a few more scenarios that just dropping Trapezists into your opponent's 1-drop and going into the next turn up on board isn't quite as easy to do.


Shopworn Bull

4[R]R → 3[R]R
2/5 → 3/4
Draw a card. Then, pick one to put back and reshuffle the rest.
→ Draw a card. Then, pick a non-Ephemeral card to put back and reshuffle the rest.

Shopworn Bull can be used quite effectively with tokens generated from Eager Recruit or with lower-value Journey of Souls triggers to create situations where its effect is more realistically "draw 1 card". This change should add a bit more of a decision point into some of those Bull activations, with a more active downside to take into consideration.


Triennial Patrol

Forge: This and created Guards get Slayer 2. → Forge: This and created Guards get Slayer 1.

Playing Patrol after accessing its Forge ability gave players access to a really high amount of trade potential. These minions having relatively weak stats defensively will continue to be a major downside for them and scaling back on their ability to "punch up" should bring this card's power level down a bit without making it feel worse to play.


Stairway to Hades

REMOVED: permanently

Removing the permanent modification of Stairway to Hades is more of an adjustment in use than a strict nerf. While this will prevent recurred targets from making use of Frenzy all over the board, it will allow minions affected by Stairway and then played again after a zone change to be played on Stairway again. The use of rush and frenzy together is rather powerful and this change forces Hades users to utilize that only on Hades itself through more trading, rather than using it to burst any open lane.


To Heaven and Back

NEW: When an occupying non-Angel minion dies, return it to its owner's hand with [Agile] and mana cost reduced by (2). It is now an Angel permanently.

Removing the permanence of the Agile and the cost reduction here means less Journey of Souls shenanigans while keeping Angel permanently prevents it from being used more than once on the same minion. Coupled with the Stairway to Hades nerf above, this prevents the super high-roll "Rush Agile Frenzy" combination that all but says "Deal double my strength to your opponent."


Armageddon Angel

7/7 → 3/7

This change should allow Angel to still live through a fair number of 1v1 board states while making the body it leaves behind less likely to push game-deciding damage.



Yellow/Green Control

Yellow/Green Control has been in a better spot since the change to Media Autocam a few weeks ago. There's a bit more passive life gain available from Wonder Drug than we'd like, as a side effect of more incentive to activate it before the second mode is online to increase Automagic Artillery damage with Bald Mountain to get it back if needed.


Wonder Drug

Gain 5 life. → Gain 4 life.

If you have 9 or less life, double this effect to 10 life… → If you have 8 or less life, double this effect to 8 life...

Toning down on Wonder Drug's healing should put this deck in a better spot where opposing players don't have to do so much extra damage before YG's top end takes over.


Twin Blanque/Twin Junah

NEW: Tokens cost 1Y

Moving the tokens generated by the Twins to having a gem cost associated with them requires a much heavier yellow saturation to actually play 2 minions on 6 outside of mono-yellow decks.


Chort Stag

Cannot take more than 3 damage in combat. → Cannot take more than 4 damage in combat.

This change to Chort Stag pushes it from dying in no less than 3 attacks to no less than 2 attacks. This should ease the pain of removing this rather big boi.



Red/Yellow Aggro

Red/Yellow aggo is a deck we've been keeping an eye on and wanted to get some more data on before making changes to it. With ample time to do that now, we're going to be looking to make the yellow splash a bit more gem-intensive to push either a higher yellow concentration or a more stressed gem count. The Daring Trapezists nerf above is also relevant here.


Instabeast

4[Y] → 4[Y]Y

Instabeast has proven itself to be a rather useful minion buff. Increasing its gem cost shouldn't affect decks with a higher yellow concentration but should push for a more focused yellow focus in decks looking for a smaller yellow splash. This also alleviates a bit of Instabeast's pains in draft format, though there are other changes later on that will lend themselves to that environment more impactfully.



Green/Purple Spirits

Green/Purple Spirits really found their stride following the release of Rings of Immortality and after a smaller nerf to the reach Call from the Grave gives that deck, it's still overperforming just slightly. We're making a fairly impactful change to this deck's early removal.


Racer in Shadow

REMOVED: Sundown: Banish this.

NEW: Awaken: Gets Ephemeral.

There's a lot going on with this change. Removing the Banish clause can lead to situations where you can go face here and keep the card or use it to clear a 0 strength blocker and keep it around. The other side of this change means that when Racer dies, it's gone. Recurring early Racers can make establishing a board against purple decks rather difficult to do, with its ability to trade up into a large number of 2 and 3-drops. This is the most common complaint currently around this card and opening it for a wider use case while addressing it's most common pain point is a direction we're looking to explore.



5-Drop Outliers

We're making a pass at a couple of the more commonly played high impact Core set cards as well. The general idea is to make them a bit less accessible universally and only slightly bring their power down. We're not necessarily looking to reinvent the wheel here but making some minor adjustments that are going to be relevant at least some of the time.


Magnus Thorsson

4/4 → 3/3

Moving Magnus to a 3/3 should decrease the impact of the body this sweeper leaves behind.


Magmataur

5[R]R → 5[R]RR

Magmataur's change is for the same reasons as Magnus'.



Canines

With Rings of Immortality giving Canines their new top end in Volkov Hetman and their "fetch" card in K-Nine Handler, we think the goodbois are thematically better fleshed out. They're still struggling a bit in higher ranks so we'll be showing them a bit of love to hopefully ease the fairly steep dropoff they have in success the higher you climb.


Sons of the Pack

NEW: Swift

Giving Swift to Sons of the Pack should cause said pack to be a little easier to maintain should it be interrupted by well placed Rush attacks or removal spells and should lead to less punishing climbs back from sweepers.


Bold Omega

1/2 → 2/2

Breach: Empower with +2/+1 → Breach: Empower with +1/+1

This change should make it just a bit easier to keep Bold Omega around and get its Breach off but doesn't result in a larger end result. Moving a bit of this card's risk into a safer floor may push it into constructed Canine decks that it's simply not often making the cut in currently.


Volkov Veteran

NEW: Regen 1

Being the Canine who really likes to take damage can be taxing. Adding Regen here should allow Veteran to more reliably get back up to its full glory after setting its own ability off. 



Vampires

Vampires are a deck with a fairly strong identity and some minor buffs to their stats, paired with a pretty cool change to Plasma Station, should help them feel a bit more cohesive.


Strigoi Pureblood

3/1 → 3/2

A small buff here should allow for a more significant increase to health for Pureblood in hands that can get an early Blood Dolls buff on it.


Strigoi Familiar

3/2 → 3/3

Familiar being a bit more resilient may allow for its impact to be felt a bit more often for the Vampire player. This also creates a bit more decision making between Familiar or Blood Dolls on curve.


Plasma Station

NEW: When a minion is created here, make it a Vampire permanently.

This effect should allow for the interesting synergies present in Vampires to apply to the more generic minions in Vampire decks at the cost of the initial mana invested into playing Plasma Station. Getting more minions eligible for Blood Dolls buffing, Strigoi Familiar cost reducing, or even Lord Valentine fueling.




Draft Formats

Purple has been fairly dominant in draft formats for a while and we're looking to tone that down a bit. Impel is also very polarizing in that format and we're making a pass at that as well, though that will be listed in a later section on Paths/Powers.


Sword Saint

2/1 → 2/2


Biting Blade

(1) → (2) 

REMOVED: +1/+0

We're removing the strength buff from Biting Blade and increasing its cost due to how swingy this card can be. This should lead to the card not being as impactful as early and the strength buff removal should provide less life gain overall. We're buffing the base body of Sword Saint instead to add a bit of "give and take" to this change.


Terragon

Adamant Pearl: (1) → (2)

While not a major power shift by itself, the idea is to slow down and more heavily limit the amount of Overrun available to purple's low rarity midrange cards. This change slows it down and the next change narrows its application.


Lantern Colossus

5/7 → 5/6


Immolation Cloak

(1) → (2)

Paired with the increased cost of Adamant Pearl, this should make for less game-ending pressure in purple's midgame in draft formats. This also pairs well to limit the impact of Biting Blade's swings as well. The increase to Immolation Cloak slows the curve at which you play Colossus and immediately use Cloak for removal as well.



Multi-color Cards

There are enough changes in here that giving full context for all of them would require a few more pages of text. Generally speaking, we are adding a bit more power to some multi-color cards in an attempt to better offset the inherent difficulty of playing these cards. We think we may have overvalued "It's a multi-color card." as a "wow factor" and left these cards weaker than their more niche access and specific curve requirements necessitate.


Fire Eater

0/3 → 1/3


Stab Crab

NEW: Armor 1

What else would such a cool helmet be used for?


Llort

1/3 → 1/4


Trained Jaguar

3/2 → 3/3


Jade Puma

3/2 → 3/3


Arclighter

2/2 → 3/2

Familia Sprite

NEW: Your spells cost (1) less.


Eirsdottir

NEW: Sundown: Fully heal this and adjacent minions.


Brass Bouncer

1/5 → 2/5 


Canine Cavalry

2/2 → 3/3


Dissonant Drone

1/3 → 2/3


Plague Maidens

Regen 1 → Regen 2


Headless One

Armor 1 → Armor 2


Revolutionary Totem

0/5 → 1/6


Energetic Broxa

4/4 → 4/5 


Herald of Famine

NEW: When opponents burn a card, they take 2 damage and the card is Banished instead of going to their deck.


Máni, Queen of Tides

2/6 → 2/7


Herald of War

5/5 → 6/6

NEW: Blast 6


Paths

Fires of Creation

REMOVED: Pursuit: Your first Forgeling costs (0) mana.

NEW: Pursuit: Start with a (1) cost 2/2 Molten Forgeling in hand.

Giving Fires players access to larger bodies earlier should provide them a better board presence while using early mana to play their artifacts.


Journey of Souls

REMOVED: Pursuit: Starts with 2 souls.

NEW: Pursuit: Starts with 1 soul. Your first returned minion costs (1) less and gets +1/+1.

This change should provide a bit more tempo recovery to the pursuit of Journey of Souls. This was an area the previous Pursuit wasn't quite living up to.


Turn of Seasons

REMOVED: Pursuit: +4 additional starting life

NEW: Pursuit: Start with a 0/4 Tree of Life in hand.

Tree of Life

(0) 0/4 Defender Immobile Sunrise: You gain 1 life.

The idea here is to try not necessarily giving hard tempo to the Turn of Seasons player but to instead force early tempo from the opponent to remove the Tree of Life.



Powers

Foresight

Look at the top 3 cards of another player's deck or Divination 3 your own. → Look at the top 4 cards of another player's deck or Divination 4 your own.

Adding more power into Foresight allows players more time to play around their opponent's upcoming cards or dig just a bit deeper for the perfect card for their next turn.


Mend

Heal all your minions for 1 and gain 1 life. → Heal all your minions for 2 and gain 1 life.

Adding some additional minion healing to Mend may make it a more enticing option in decks looking to establish board control without inflating game times by buffing the player healing.


Impel

(2) → (3)

Impel has been the most popular and generally most powerful in constructed for a little while now and is even better in draft. Moving it to 3 should make it a bit more of an investment over the course of the game and introduce some more decision making in the deck building process.



Miscellaneous Changes

These changes do not specifically fit into the categories above and largely don't require the same level of context added to accompany their changes. We'll just be listing these here but won't delve into great detail on them.



Blue

Grease Monkey

Ability Activation: → ▽


Eir Healing

Restore 5 health to a minion… → Restore 7 health to a minion…


Jorthsong

2[B]B → 2[B]


Loki's Veil

While occupied, enemy artifacts and enchantments… → Enemy artifacts and enchantments


Einherjar Berserkr

Ability Activation: (1)BB → BB


Ensnaring Serpent

NEW: Regen 1


Westingshire Vandals

Breach: Deal 3 damage… → Breach: Deal 4 damage…


Bridgeway Troll

NEW: Regen 1


Spear Sister

NEW: Focused 1


Timberland Troll

Regen 1 → Regen 2



Yellow

Magpyre Commando

NEW: Focused 1


Firedart Frog

2/1 → 2/2


Vibrant Quetzal

Awaken: Gain 2 life. → Awaken: Gain 3 life.


Cloudscale Drake

NEW: Added Serpent Type


Dream Weaver

Ability Activation: (1)Y → Y



Incubation Chamber

Minions created here have Armor 2 and… → Minions created here have Armor 4 and…

A buff here should allow for a higher likelihood that a minion on Incubation Chamber actually gets to incubate.


Serpentine Empress

2/2 → 3/3


Xelhua the Builder

4/3 → 3/4


Vicious Cycle

Destroy a minion and its controller draws a card. → Destroy a minion. If it was non-Ephemeral, its controller draws a card.


Fleeting Thunderbird

Starting Energy: 0 → 1


Magpyre Enforcer

Slayer 2 → Slayer 3


Universal Holcan

Ability Activation: (3): Empower with… Overrun → (2): Empower with… Overrun

Ability Activation: (3): Empower with… Armor 1 → (2): Empower with… Armor 1


Harvester

Awaken: Gain 3 life. → Awaken: Gain 4 life.



Red

Dead Man's Eyes

NEW: If tails, gain (1) temporary mana.


Forlorn Spirit

2/1 → 2/2


Ourania Muse

You lose 1 life, Divination 2, then draw a card. → You lose 1 life, Divination 3, then draw a card.


Impoverished Ogre

4/5 → 5/5


Ironbelly Wyvern

3/3 → 4/3


Pit Fiend

4/2 → 4/3

Awaken: Banish the top 4… → Awaken: Banish the top 5…


Chloe Sunshine

NEW: Swift


Cognate of Eratos

▽: Look at the top nine cards of a player's deck. → ▽: Look at the top nine cards of another player's deck or Divination 6 on your own.


Faun of Decay

3/3 → 4/3


Cyclopean Giant

2/6 →  3/6

Focused 5 →  Focused 4


Howling Abyssal

4/3 →  5/3


Strigoi Runner

Focused 1 →  Focused 2


Sideshow Chimera

Awaken: Create 3/1 Amalgam minions… → Awaken: Create 3/2 Amalgam minions…

Adjacent Chimera minions have +0/+2 → Adjacent Chimera minions have +0/+1



Green

Diehard Dreni

1/1 → 2/1


Dora

Ability Activation: (1)▼ → ▼


Samosek, the Living Sword

DUR: 9 → 6

After an enemy minion deals combat damage to a player it takes… → Before an enemy minion attacks one of your unoccupied lanes, it must first take…


Gallows Boy

Slayer 1 → Slayer 2


Academy Analyst

Divination 4 → Divination 4. The next spell you cast this turn costs (1) less.


Academy Recruitment

Create 1/1 Cadets…

Create 1/1 Cadets with Focused 1…


Simargl Hatchling

Regen 1 → Regen 2


Bog Basilisk

1/6 → 2/6


Focused Frenzy

Focused 1 → Focused 2


Koschei, the Deathless

When in the boneyard with at least 3 minions above this… → At the end of any turn, if in your boneyard with at least 2 minions above it…


Ravenous She

5/5 → 6/5


Vilja Windfury

4/5 → 4/6


Sanguine Steel

5/3 → 6/3



Orange

Dune Cat

2/1 → 2/2


Xerxian Observer

Ability Activation: (2) → (1)▽


Dust Devil

3/1 → 3/2


Notarize Reality

Make the top 4 cards… → Make the top 6 cards…

Give the top 4 minions… → Give the top 6 minions…


Salt the Fields

NEW: All lanes opposite your Desert enchantments are enchanted with Parched Wastes, replacing any existing enchantments.


Parched Wastes

(0) Desert enchantment

Sundown: Occupying minion takes 1 damage. Can be replaced by other enchantments.


Dune Courser

...has +1/+0 and Regen 2. → ...has +1/+1 and Regen 3.


Vessel (generated by Imperfect Copy)

(1) → (0)


Insurance Broker

1/3 → 1/4


Parsa Clarion

2/3 → 3/3


Radiant Vessel

3/3 → 3/4


Shadhavar Beast

Fragile 1 → Fragile 2


Parsa Immortal

Sundown: Fully heals. → Fully heals at the end of each turn.


Peri at the Gates

NEW: Agile


Silicon Sentinel

4/8 → 5/8


Cataphract

5/5 → 5/6


Daeva of the Wastes

5/5 → 5/6


Behemoth

NEW: Cannot be returned to hand or deck from play.



Purple

Cross-Training

NEW: Give a minion Swift and +1/+0. The top minion in your deck gets Agile and +0/+1 permanently.


Sniffer

NEW: Focused 1


Axe Man

NEW: Awaken: Deal 1 damage to a minion in the opposite lane.


Oji-Waza

2PP → 2P


Profane Locus

Minions attacking through this lane get Ephemeral until Sundown. → Minions attacking through this lane get Ephemeral and -1/-0 until Sundown.


Death Mark

(1) → (0)


Hoarding Hero

2/2 → 3/3


Flame Scroll

Deal 3 damage. → Deal 4 damage


Back Alley Ronin

Is created with 2 more strength and 1 more health… → Is created with 2 more strength and health…


Dead Angler

Starting Energy: 2 → 1


Decoy

1/2 → 2/2


Feng Shui Master

NEW: Awaken: Destroy an unoccupied enemy enchantment or return an occupied enemy enchantment to its owner's hand.


Shinobi of Chains

Ability Activation: (2)▽ → (1)▽


Thriving Shade

4/4 → 4/5



Conclusion

If you've made it this far… congratulations. There's a lot to digest here so we wanted to get this out well ahead of our planned patch date. These changes are scheduled to go live on Monday, November 16th.


The following cards will be eligible for refunds starting with that patch if you've crafted them since October 18th, 2020:

Racer in Shadow, Daring Trapezists, Sword Saint, Wonder Drug, Instabeast, Magnus Thorsson, Magmataur, Stairway to Hades, Triennial Patrol, To Heaven and Back, Armageddon Angel, Terragon, Lantern Colossus, Samosek, the Living Sword. Twin Blanque, Twin Junah, Chort Stag